Treble-winners Cork Harlequins and Dungarvan were the big winners at this year’s Munster Hockey Awards, held at Garryduff on Friday night.
Quins, who claimed a men’s Munster league and cup double before recording a stunning against-the-odds Irish Senior Cup win, were rewarded with the team of the year gong, as well as a coach of the year award for Phil Oakley.
Oakley shared his title with Neil Welch, who guided UCC to an Irish Hockey Trophy victory, the first senior national title in the university club’s history.
College hitman Fionn O’Leary’s part in that success was acknowledged as he became a young winner of senior player of the year at just 20 years old, while former Ireland captain Eimear Cregan took the women’s equivalent. Her 40-plus goals propelled Catholic Institute to a league and cup double and an unbeaten domestic season.
Dungarvan were deserving winners of club of the year, overcoming the Co Waterford side’s disadvantage with regards to numbers and facilities to win the ladies Division 3 league, as well as a Division 6 league and cup double.
For the first time, prizes were awarded at all the interprovincial age-grades, voted for by coaches and management and based on the players’ performances at their respective interpro tournaments.
Karl Lynch and Yvonne O’Byrne claimed the U21 prizes, with Gary Wilkinson and Leanne Mullins earning the U18 equivalents, while Jack Ryan and Clodagh Moloney won the U16 awards.
Cork C of I’s Barry Crowley — involved in almost all of his club’s men’s teams, in some way or another — won volunteer of the year, Alan Good of Munster U18 Boys was named manager of the year while special merit awards went to Jane Fleming, Moray Russell and Ingrid Morrissey.
Brian Attridge claimed the men’s umpire of the year prize while Liz Clifford won the female equivalent, this year renamed the June Platts Award.
Meanwhile, Catholic Institute were once again left bemoaning the Irish Hockey League draw after they were handed arguably the toughest pool in the history of the competition for the 2012/13 season.
By contrast, both the men and women of Cork Harlequins will be relieved to have ended up in the easier pools on paper, while Cork Church of Ireland’s men are another side who will be cursing their luck.
The presence of an Irish international-laden Hermes side — who are in European action this weekend — in the wildcard playoffs was always going to skew whichever pool they were landed in.
The Booterstown outfit had a poor campaign in Leinster but were unbeaten in their IHL pool when their international contingent was present — highlighting why some feel the IHL should be seeded on previous performances in the competition, like rugby’s Heineken Cup, rather than on domestic league placings.
Institute’s dubious reward for winning out in Munster is to be landed with Hermes — a beaten semi-finalist this year — in Pool A along with 2011 winners Pegasus, 2012 champions Railway Union and 2012 runners-up Loreto. Ulster Elks, who are heading into their maiden IHL campaign after finishing fourth in the northern province, are the pool’s dark horses.
Elsewhere, Hermes will contest the final of the EuroHockey Club Champions Challenge I in Wettingen, Switzerland today after emerging from their pool with a 100% record.
The Dubliners are seeking promotion from European club hockey’s third tier, having seen Pegasus win the division above on home turf in Belfast at Easter.
Eimear Horan — sister of Munster rugby star, Marcus — has hit three goals in their three pool games so far, victories over Rotweiss Wettingen (4-1), HC Wels (3-1) and Slavia Praha (3-1). They’ll take on France’s Lille in today’s final.
Irish Hockey League draw 2012/13
Men’s Pool A: Cookstown; Monkstown; Pembroke Wanderers; Annadale; Cork Harlequins; Instonians . Men Pool B: Glenanne; Lisnagarvey ; Banbridge; Railway Union; Cork C of I; YMCA. Women Pool A: Pegasus; Railway Union; Loreto; Ulster Elks; Catholic Institute; Hermes. Women Pool B: UCD; Ballymoney; Lurgan; Old Alexandra; Cork Harlequins; Ards.
Munster Hockey Awards 2011/12
Team of the Year: Cork Harlequins Men’s 1sts; Club of the Year: Dungarvan LHC; Senior Players of the Year: Fionn O’Leary (UCC) & Eimear Cregan (Catholic Institute); U21 Players of the Year: Karl Lynch (Pembroke Wanderers) & Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins); U18 Players of the Year: Gary Wilkinson (Ashton/Cork C of I) & Leanne Mullins (Ashton/Cork Harlequins); U16 Players of the Year: Jack Ryan (Midleton College) & Clodagh Moloney (Crescent Comprehensive/Catholic Institute); Coaches of the Year: Phil Oakley (Cork Harlequins Men’s 1sts) & Neil Welch (UCC Men’s 1sts); Umpires of the Year: Brian Attridge & Liz Clifford; Manager of the Year: Alan Good (Munster U18 Boys); Volunteer of the Year: Barry Crowley (Cork C of I); Special Merit Awards: Jane Fleming, Ingrid Morrissey, Moray Russell.
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